A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings
A Clash of Kings  
US Hardcover Edition
Author(s) George R. R. Martin
Cover artist Steve Youll
Country United States
Language English
Series A Song of Ice and Fire
Genre(s) Fantasy
Publisher Bantam Spectra (US) & Voyager Books (UK)
Publication date November 1998 (UK) & March 1999 (US)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 708 (UK Hardback), 768 (US Hardback), 1009 (US Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-00-224585-X (UK Hardback), ISBN 0-553-10803-4 (US Hardback), ISBN 0-553-57990-8 (US Paperback)
OCLC Number 59667381
Preceded by A Game of Thrones
Followed by A Storm of Swords

A Clash of Kings is the second novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series by American author George R. R. Martin expected to consist of seven volumes. It was first published on 16 November 1998 in the United Kingdom, although the first United States edition did not follow until March 1999. Like its predecessor, A Game of Thrones, it won the Locus Award (in 1999) for Best Novel and was nominated for the Nebula Award (also in 1999) for best novel. In May 2005 Meisha Merlin released a much-delayed limited edition of the novel, fully illustrated by John Howe.

A Clash of Kings is also the name of the first expansion to the Game of Thrones board game.

The book is being filmed for television by HBO as the second season to the channel's television adaptation of the first book, Game of Thrones.


Plot introduction

The series is set in a fictitious world reminiscent of Medieval Europe, primarily on a continent called Westeros. However, the Targaryen part of the story in A Clash of Kings takes place in a separate continent across the sea to the east. In this world the seasons can last for years at a time, sometimes decades.

Plot summary

A Clash of Kings picks up where A Game of Thrones ended. The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are plagued by civil war, while the Night's Watch mounts a reconnaissance force north of the Wall to investigate the mysterious people, known as wildlings, who live there. Meanwhile, in the distant east, Daenerys Targaryen continues her quest to return to and conquer the Seven Kingdoms. All signs are foreshadowing the terrible disaster that is to come.

In the Seven Kingdoms

The civil war to claim the Iron Throne becomes more complex. Three kings had declared their claims in "Game of Thrones" - Joffrey Baratheon, Renly Baratheon and Robb Stark. Balon Greyjoy declares himself king of the Iron Islands, launching a massive assault along the west coast of the North, and becoming the fourth of the war's kings. At the Stark stronghold of Winterfell, Robb's young brother Bran Stark has recovered from his coma and is in command. He finds two new friends when Jojen and Meera Reed arrive from Greywater Watch and take an interest in his strange dreams.

Stannis Baratheon declares himself King of Westeros, encouraged by Melisandre of Asshai, a red priestess of R'hllor, a god popular in the East, but relatively unheard of in Westeros. The war is dubbed the War of the Five Kings. Stannis's younger brother, Renly, has also laid claim to the throne. By rights Stannis has the better claim, as the elder brother, but Renly will not back down, since he has the larger army. Catelyn Stark joins a meeting between Renly and Stannis to discuss a possible Stark-Baratheon alliance against their mutual foe, the Lannisters. The meeting fails, and a mysterious shadow kills Renly in his tent whilst Catelyn and another witness, the warrior-maid Brienne of Tarth, are present. The two women are implicated in Renly's murder, and flee. As a result of the murder, most of Renly's supporters shift their loyalty to Stannis, although the Tyrells do not. Renly's stronghold at Storm's End falls when Melisandre gives birth to another shadow to kill the castle's defiant castellan.

Tyrion Lannister arrives at King's Landing to serve as Hand of the King, the closest adviser to the monarch, his young nephew Joffrey. Whilst intriguing against his sister Cersei, widow of the late king and mother of Joffrey, Tyrion works to improve the defenses of the city against possible attack, and also enters negotiations with the lords of the other noble houses to strengthen his nephew's hold on the throne. He sends the devious Littlefinger to negotiate with the Tyrells, gaining that house's support when Lord Mace Tyrell agrees to wed his daughter Margaery to Joffrey, despite Margaery's earlier unconsummated marriage to the deceased Renly, and despite Joffrey's earlier pledge to wed Sansa Stark. Tyrion also forges an alliance with House Martell when he arranges for Joffrey's sister Princess Myrcella to wed Trystane Martell.

In an attempt to use Winterfell as a base from which to conquer the North, and to impress his father Balon, Theon Greyjoy, a former ward of the Starks and close friend of Robb's, captures Winterfell with just thirty men, taking the young Stark children Bran and Rickon captive. Bran and Rickon disappear in the night and Theon is unable to trace them. Rather than look foolish, Theon murders two anonymous peasant boys and mutilates their faces to pass them off as Bran and Rickon. Believing that their princes have been murdered, Stark supporters besiege the castle joined by a force from House Bolton. Yet Theon had previously conspired with Bolton's bastard, Ramsay Snow, and the Bolton soldiers turn on the besiegers as planned. Theon opens the gates to the victorious Boltons, but they betray him as well and raze Winterfell. Bran and Rickon emerge from hiding after the sack of the castle. To protect the heirs to Winterfell, a dying Maester Luwin convinces the boys to take separate courses: Osha, a captured wildling turned castle servant, agrees to take Rickon to safety, while Bran, accompanied by Meera, Jojen, and his simple manservant Hodor, travels north to the Wall.

Robb Stark leads his army into the Westerlands and wins several victories against the Lannisters in their home territory. Tywin Lannister advances against him, but receiving news that King's Landing is threatened, rapidly withdraws south.

Arya Stark, posing as a boy named Arry to protect her identity as a daughter of Eddard Stark who was previously executed on false charges of treason, travels north along with new recruits for the Night's Watch. The group is captured and taken to Lannister-held Harrenhal, where Arya poses as a peasant serving girl. A mysterious man, Jaqen H'ghar, repays Arya for saving his life by killing two men of her choice. Instead of choosing a third man, Arya cunningly enlists Jaqen's help to release a band of Stark supporters who quickly take over Harrenhal. Jaqen gives Arya a coin and a strange phrase, "Valar Morghulis", to be used in an emergency. Lord Roose Bolton soon arrives to occupy Harrenhal. Arya becomes his cup bearer, but soon escapes.

Stannis Baratheon's army reaches King's Landing and launches assaults by both land and sea. Under Tyrion's command, Joffrey's forces throw back Stannis's forces through cunning use of "wildfire" (a Greek Fire-like substance) to set fire to the river while raising a chain across it to prevent Stannis's fleet from retreating, essentially trapping them in the fiery bay. Stannis barely manages to escape with a decimated army and a few ships. Tyrion is seriously injured during the battle as a result of a treacherous attack by one of Joffrey's guards working as an agent of Cersei, however, he is saved by his squire, Podrick Payne.

On the Wall

A scouting party from the Night's Watch advances northwards from the Wall. At Craster's Keep they learn that the normally anarchic wildlings are uniting under a single figure, King-beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder. The Watch continues north to a ruined fortress formerly known as the Fist of the First Men. Lord Commander Jeor Mormont sends Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand on an advanced reconnaissance of the Skirling Pass.

In the pass, Snow and Halfhand find themselves being hunted by wildling warriors. Facing certain defeat, Halfhand commands Snow to act as an oathbreaker to infiltrate the wildlings and learn their plans. To create proof he has truly turned, Halfhand forces Jon to fight him, and Jon kills him with the aid of his direwolf Ghost. Jon learns that Rayder is already advancing on the Wall with tens of thousands of fighters.

In the East

Daenerys Targaryen strikes east across the forbidding red waste, accompanied by the knight Jorah Mormont, her remaining few loyal followers, and three newborn dragons. Scouts find a safe route to the great trading city of Qarth. Daenerys is the wonder of the city for her dragons. One merchant in particular seems especially interested in her, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, who is the leader of the Thirteen, a prominent group of traders in Qarth. He initially acts as a great host, but ultimately Daenerys cannot secure commitment from the merchants for aid in claiming the throne of Westeros because she refuses to give away one of her dragons. In the House of the Undying, the powerful warlocks of Qarth show Daenerys many confusing images and her life is threatened. Daenerys' dragon Drogon burns down the House of the Undying, sparking the enmity of the Qartheen. An attempt to assassinate Daenerys at the city's harbor is thwarted by the arrival of two strangers, a fat warrior named Strong Belwas and his squire, an aged warrior named Arstan Whitebeard. They are agents of Daenerys's ally Illyrio Mopatis, come to escort her back to Pentos. Daenerys and her followers leave the city.


The tale is told through the eyes of 9 POV characters and a one-off prologue POV:

  • Prologue: Maester Cressen, maester at Dragonstone.
  • Tyrion Lannister, youngest son of Lord Tywin Lannister, a dwarf and a brother to Queen Cersei
  • Lady Catelyn Stark, of House Tully, widow of Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell
  • Ser Davos Seaworth, a smuggler turned knight in the service of King Stannis Baratheon
  • Princess Sansa Stark, eldest daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark, held captive by the King on the Iron Throne at King's Landing
  • Princess Arya Stark, youngest daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark, missing and presumed dead
  • Prince Bran Stark, second son of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark and heir to Winterfell and the Kingdom in the North
  • Jon Snow, bastard son of Eddard Stark and a man of the Night's Watch
  • Theon Greyjoy, heir to the Seastone Chair and former ward of Lord Eddard Stark
  • Queen Daenerys Targaryen, Stormborn, of the Targaryen Dynasty


  • Bulgarian: "Сблъсък на Крале"
  • Chinese: "列王的纷争", 重庆出版社(2006).
  • Croatian: "Sraz kraljeva"
  • Czech: Střet králů
  • Dutch: Luitingh-Sijthoff (1999): "De strijd der koningen"
  • Estonian: Two volumes (Hardcover: Varrak (2008,2009): "Kuningate heitlus"
  • Finnish: "Kuninkaiden koitos"
  • French: Three volumes (Hardcover: Pygmalion (2000); paperback: J'ai Lu (2002)): "La bataille des rois", "L'ombre maléfique", "L'invincible forteresse"
  • German: Single volume, Fantasy Productions (2004): "Königsfehde". Two volumes, Blanvalet (2000): "Der Thron der Sieben Königreiche", "Die Saat des goldenen Löwen". (Translation: "The Seed of the golden Lion")
  • Greek: Two volumes, Anubis (2005): "Σύγκρουση Βασιλέων"
  • Hebrew: עימות המלכים (Two volumes)
  • Hungarian: Single volume, Alexandra: "Királyok csatája"
  • Italian: Two volumes, Mondadori (2002): "Il regno dei lupi" (The Wolves' Kingdom), "La regina dei draghi" (The Queen of the Dragons); as a single volume titled "Lo scontro dei re" (The Clash of the Kings) in the collection Urania Fantasy - Le grandi saghe (July 2008)
  • Japanese: 王狼たちの戦旗 (The Wolf-King Clan's Battle) Hayakawa Publishing Corporation (2004) Hardcover, 2 volumes; (2007) softcover, 5 volumes.
  • Korean: 왕들의 전쟁
  • Norwegian: Two volumes: "Kongenes kamp" (February/March 2012), "Dragenes dronning" (May 2012)
  • Polish: "Starcie królów"
  • Portuguese: Two volumes: Saída de Emergência (2008): "A Fúria dos Reis", "O Despertar da Magia". In Brazil, Editora Leya (2011): ''"A Fúria dos Reis: As Crônicas de Gelo e Fogo, Livro Dois".
  • Romanian: Two volumes: "Încleştarea Regilor"
  • Russian: Single volume, AST (2004, 2005, 2006): "Битва королей". Two volumes, AST (2000): "Битва королей. Книга 1", "Битва королей. Книга 2".
  • Serbian: "Sudar kraljeva"
  • Slovene: "Spopad kraljev" (2008)
  • Spanish: Gigamesh (2003): "Choque de reyes"
  • Swedish: "Sagan om Eld och Is: Kungarnas Krig"
  • Turkish: Single volume, Epsilon yayınevi (2011): "Kralların Çarpışması"

Television adaptation

A Clash of Kings is being adapted for television by HBO as the second season of its successful adaptation of A Game of Thrones.[1] Filming began in July 2011, and the show is expected to air around April 2012.[2]


As with its precedessor, A Clash of Kings was positively received by critics. Dorman Shindler of The Dallas Morning News described it as "one of the best [works] in this particular subgenre", praising "the richness of this invented world and its cultures ... [that] lends Mr. Martin's novels the feeling of medieval history rather than fiction."[3] Writing in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Jim Hopper called A Clash of Kings "High Fantasy with a vengeance" and commented: "I'll admit to staying up too late one night last week to finish off this big book, and I hope it's not too terribly long until the next one come out."[4] Danielle Pilon wrote in the Winnipeg Free Press that the book "shows no signs of the usual 'middle book' aimlessness". Although she found the constantly switching viewpoints "momentarily confusing", she felt that it "draws the reader deep into the labyrinthine political and military intrigues and evokes sympathy for characters on all sides of the conflict."[5] Bradley H. Sinor of the Tulsa World praised Martin for "keep[ing] readers balanced on a sword's edge" and managing to do "three important things" with A Clash of Kings: "It grips the reader whether or not they read the earlier book, tells a satisfying story and leaves the reader wanting the next book as soon as possible."[6] The Oregonian's Steve Perry called the book "easily as good as the first novel" and commented that the Song of Ice and Fire books were "so complex, fascinating and well-rendered that readers will almost certainly be hooked into the whole series." However, he cautioned that "if it were it a movie, it would be rated "R" for sex and violence, so don't pick the book up for your 10-year-old nephew who likes Conan."[7]

Awards and nominations

  • Locus Award – Best Novel (Fantasy) (Won) – (1999)[1]
  • Nebula Award – Best Novel (Nominated) – (1999)[1]
  • Ignotus Award – Best Novel (Foreign) (Won) – (2004)


  1. ^ a b c "1999 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1999. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  2. ^ Crider, Michael. "'Game Of Thrones' Season 2 Starts Filming In July; Producers Talk Cast & Story". http://screenrant.com/game-thrones-season-2-details-production-schedule-mcrid-120008/. Retrieved July 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ Shindler, Dorman (February 21, 1999). "In Martin's 'Clash of Kings,' the delight is in the details". The Dallas Morning News. 
  4. ^ Hopper, Jim (March 19, 1999). "They're wiping out intelligent races -- What? Me worry?". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 
  5. ^ Pilon, Danielle (March 28, 1999). "Second book in Martin series shines amid dull tomes". Winnipeg Free Press. 
  6. ^ Sinor, Bradley H. (April 25, 1999). "All the king's horses ...". Tulsa World. 
  7. ^ Perry, Steve (June 27, 1999). "Adventure drives medieval-style fantasy". The Oregonian. 

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